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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 318

Volunteers clean up with BLM at Surprise Canyon

On February 2, 2008 Blm's Ridgecrest Field Office conducted its second cleanup of the Chris Wicht Camp, in Surprise Canyon of the Panamint Mountains. (text continues below photo)

A driver uses his off-road vehicle to tow a rusted junk car from the site:
A driver uses his off-road vehicle to tow a rusted junk car from the site

The cleanup efforts included help from 69 volunteers and 13 Student Conservation Association (SCA) Desert Restoration Interns. The volunteers came both on their own, and as part of a number of organizations. Groups represented include: The Friends of Panamint Valley, California Wilderness Coalition, California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, California Off-Road Vehicle Association--In 2 Dirt Program, Red Bull Rockcrawling Team, and several four-wheel-drive clubs including Tin Benders, On the Rocks, Gear Grinders, Ventura County Axle Snappers, and Point Magu. (more below photos)

The junk include large rusted appliances:
Volunteers prepare to load a large appliance from the site

All the volunteers came together to remove metal debris, trash, and abandoned cars from the site, leaving behind only the items of interpretive and historic value.  Chris Wicht was a saloon keeper in the town of Ballarat, which saw its peak as a gold-mining center around the start of the 20th century. His former camp was used until recent years, when buildings at the site burned down leaving decades of relics and trash.

The volunteers' hard work resulted in 14,700 pounds of scrap metal being sent to a local recycling center, and 11,500 pounds of debris being hauled off the public lands. The volunteer’s were also able to transport eight car bodies from the site, down the steep canyon, five miles to an easily-accessible staging location to be hauled away by a local automotive recycling facility. The volunteers also helped clear approximately five acres of invasive tamarisk from the Surprise Canyon stream channel.

After working hard all day, the volunteers were treated to a spaghetti diner prepared by the interns of the SCA.   The Friends of Panamint Valley display more photos from the cleanup on their site, along with a bit of history of the site.

Volunteers prepare to remove junk spread across the site - including translucent fiberglass roof panels, and rusted vehicle parts.

BLM California News.bytes, issue 318

Last updated: 02-12-2008